Monday, March 25, 2013

How and Why I Level Characters

As of this writing, on my home server I have 10 x 90s, two 85+, and a bunch of characters waiting to get leveled on my other account ranging from level 6 to 73.  The reason leveling so many 90s was easy for me was I started this game way back in 2006 upon finishing my business with Diablo 2.  I've played RPGs for over 25 years, so leveling is something that I understand and it's also a fun process for me.  (That's right, I've been gaming longer than the majority of my readers here have been alive, and I enjoy the process.)  Over the years I've taken many different characters to the level cap, so it's not like I sat down at the beginning of MoP and took them all to 90, this was something I did over time.

The big question you have to answer for yourself before you stack capped characters - Why have so many?

From an Auction House standpoint - Flexibility, Knowledge of the Classes, and Experience
From a playing standpoint - Tons of Fun

On my "tons of fun" reason - I like variety, and I have had several different "mains" in my time playing WoW.  Characters are like golf clubs (something I also enjoy playing), you just pick the one you need to get the job done, and each one handles differently.  I can play all of them well, and of course my short game still needs work.  I'm going off on a tangent, so...

More flexibility means that certain things in the game aren't locked out for me.  I can make another tailor, leatherworker, or blacksmith with ease.  If needed, I can also pick up more of the basic professions.  Given the changes to reps, I can also get any of them to the needed reputation with ease.  Tillers is a 90 only rep, and if I need to plant something specific I can get lots of whatever I want very quickly.  Further, it didn't take a ton of time leveling my characters, since I keep up from expansion to expansion, the only choice I have to make during expansions is which ones are priority to get to cap first.

A side bonus of having all these 90s - I utilize the same sites as everyone else (should).  Icy Veins, Mr. Robot, Elitist Jerks, etc.  I'm one of those people that sit down and actually read and consume the content out there so I can play properly, and not just "figure it out lol".  I don't like reinventing the wheel when the research has already been done - that's not fun.  Therefore, I'm a walking encyclopedia of what's best for each class and spec, and I can tell what people are really going to desire.  This is especially helpful in creating BOEs where it's not just 'stack it high and watch it fly'.  I don't waste time or resources chasing markets where things won't sell because they are poorly itemized.  I've been through the leveling process of each and know what items are rare on the AH, and how to build a marketing plan around this.

Leveling to Cap is Easy

* BOAs are offered in almost every slot, for Justice Points, which are almost useless otherwise
* Rested Experience
* Monks get Enlightenment from a daily - 50% more xp through 85, 20% through 90
* Pandaren earn rested XP 2 times faster, so 5 days and you're ready to roll again
* 80-89 now has a large amount of gear available to give you killing speed
* Questing is entirely linear and you have a choice of paths
* BOAs are now upgradable through 85, giving you a monster amount of bonus XP all the way to 85
* Previous content buff foods, elixirs, cheap old flasks all speed you up and are cheap
* Death Knights start at level 55
* Pet battles offer experience - while nerfed and slower
* Recruit a Friend (RAF) if you're into that
* There's a guild bonus at Level 6 for 10% more experience gains (not at 25 you nubs)
* The amount of XP required per level is dramatically reduced over previous expansions

Prior to the opening of Diablo 3, back when I thought WoW would become history for me, I started a leveling project where I took 5 different Death Knights to 85 on different servers with no BOAs.  For some reason I got it in my head to possibly grind gold on 6 of the most populated US servers, but for obvious reasons I abandoned that idea.  When I was done with it, I had 5 DKs, 1 Warrior, and 1 Rogue all at 85 on these other servers for a total of 18 x 85s.  It's not that hard to get it done.  Again with the tangents.

How I Level a New Character

1-15:  Dump Enchanted BOAs on them.  Where possible, give them missing slot items I won't upgrade quickly, Bracer/boot enchants, foods, elixirs for different levels, healing/mana pots.  I keep these updated along the way.  Of course bags.  I quest the entire way, doing all of the available quests as fast as possible.

16-60:  I specifically run each dungeon one time unless it's irrelevant, I don't do randoms.  I'm only after the gear available from the quest rewards.  If the dungeon has a poor upgrade for me, I skip it and continue questing in the appropriate zone.  Here's a map that was released on MMOC at the opening of Cataclysm that I commonly refer back to when I'm looking for a spot to jump in to.  Always do the zones that are for your level, move on to the next one immediately when you hit the level for the next zone.  At 58 I move into Outlands because the quest reward XP is far greater than wasting time in Silithus or grinding Classic dungeons.

60-68:  Thanks to CRZ, questing in Outlands is a real challenge and slows me down.  I know this is the state of PvP servers today, but I'm not looking to get my main fight back since I'm on a mission so I just queue it up.  I will do quests as long as I can in the zones that are relevant, but once ganking starts I'm queued.  Outlands just seems to be the most affected with the ganking, probably because the portal is right there in town and people have nothing else to do.  I get it.  This also happens to be the only time when I queue randoms, but I will insure I get all of the relevant ones completed before exiting Outlands.

68-80:  I am immediately off to Northrend, and I like to do Borean Tundra.  I tend to quest entirely through to 70 and retain the updated gear I can, then at 70 I'll start the dungeon crawl for quest rewards.  I quest certain zones because I enjoy them still - Zul'Drak (74), Sholozar Basin (77), Storm Peaks (78), Icecrown (79); but I immediately leave them upon hitting the next level.  I still try to get all the different dungeons completed one time, except Oculus and only because asking people to not take 4 red dragons or 4 green dragons results in unneeded delays and brain aneurisms.  At 77 I will equip a Cataclysm green weapon.  I don't care if the thing has spirit as it's mod, it's the dps I'm after and it will get replaced almost immediately at 80 anyhow.

80-85:  Obviously Cataclysm zones, and this is where I'm questing almost entirely.  I run the various dungeons one time each, but most of the time I only get to 2-3 of them the entire time.  This is also where you equip the MoP twink gear, especially weapons since those will 1-3 shot mobs all the way through.  If you can't afford those, then get the Cata gear made - rings, neck, armors.  Since they reduced the XP requirement from 83-85 by a ton, I flat out don't have the time for all of the dungeons when I'm plowing through quests.  Once I get to Twilight Highlands, I'm looking for a Crucible group immediately, and from there I'll complete all the quests until 85.

85-90:  Here's something they don't tell you normally - if you're looking to blow through MoP questing, you don't stay in a zone any longer than necessary.  I know people that bitch and moan about how long questing takes, but they do all of Jade Forest, V4W, KW, etc.  The quest reward XP is tied directly to the level of the zone, so if you're 88 doing quests in Krasarang Wilds, you're way off.  The path you should take:

* Jade Forest until you get the quest to leave the zone.  By this point, you should be well over 86.
* Valley of Four Winds to 87.  Open Halfhill and get that out of the way, I usually do that with about 10% XP from 87.  Finish other quests if you're short.
* Immediately at 87 I'll head to Kun-Lai Summit and do everything I can but I also insure Golden Lotus is opened before leaving.
* At 88 I waste no time getting to the camps in Townlong Steppes.  If I need the 442 helm I'll complete all the quests up through that even if I'm 89 at that point.
* 89-90 it's Dread Wastes.  Fastest I've completed the climb here is about 2 hours.

At 85, I will definitely equip my 415 gear.  415 gear is obviously the blue proc items you get from making the various LW/Tailor/Blacksmith items, and I stack my strongest stats and reforge to hit/expertise.  If I need a trinket, I head down to my Adventuring Gear vendor and pick them up.  Fill the slots, run appropriate dungeons for the quest reward cape.  These will last you until you hit Townlong Steppes, because all green rewards are 414, and blue items are only granted sparingly.

I took the time to get the BOA Archeology items (and even upgraded them in 5.1 just in case) and the spear goes on all Death Knights, Monks, Paladins, Feral Druids, and Warriors.  But it's Agi, Zero!  Yes, it's agility based, your point?  Go by the dps of the weapon.  I have a heroic mode 463 (471 now, nyuk nyuk) and I'm 1-2 shotting everything, you're running around with a 372/399/404/410 weapon that's itemized for your class, grats.  Agi also grants crit rating.  Slap this spear on an Arms Warrior, Bladestorm, and watch the tanks fight in vain to hold the mobs in the dungeons.

Stay Rested

During the entire process, I will generally only level on rested experience after level 70.  Rested gets burned so quickly prior to this point, it's not worth parking that long.  If I run out of rested experience I will not continue.  The character gets parked after I've insured I have the flight paths to get back to where I was.  If you do 85-90 entirely rested, and you quest your way through, full rest at 85 should last through 87/88.  At 88 you only need about 3/4 rested to quest entirely to 90 without running out of it at all.  So completing 85-90 should technically only take you 17 days if you account for rested time, provided you quest and only do each dungeon one time.  For me, 85-90 is actually about 10-12 hours played.

Optimize Your Gear

I generally reforge after 80 to my needed hit and expertise ratings whenever I get too low for comfort, since these are your most powerful stats along the way.  I try to stay at around 3-4% since I'm usually hitting mobs my own level or one level higher (we aren't raiding here).  I equip hit elixirs when I need to, because missing attacks simply slows you down.  I enchant for hit/expertise if I have the mats laying around - but generally they're cheaper on the Auction House because people level with them and the vast majority of players ignore this mechanic while leveling so they remain cheap.

Research the Class While Leveling It

Ever hear that tanks are the highest dps until 80? or 85?  Bullshit.  That's because most players haven't a clue how to play their class properly, and most tanks just AOE while everyone spams buttons.  There are more resources today than ever before telling you how to play the class, and the best one in my opinion is Icy Veins.  They have all of the classes broken down, what spec to use while leveling, glyphs, everything.  They do everything except push the buttons for you.

This is important because you need to optimize your killing power along the way.  All classes get their signature abilities at level 10 now, and I know exactly when I'm getting new skills to put on my bars because I looked into it.  For the extreme casuals out there, this will also teach you how to play your class and the game better, because you practice a good rotation along the way and learn a little more about how the game mechanics work. 

For My Next Trick...

I'm working on a project in down times where I'll have more 80s because I want my primary account to be all about the major professions.  I started on this last month and it's a dream of mine to have an army of warriors, so I started 5 more warriors and another monk on my other account.  The warriors are all the different races, even a panda.  I love warriors for their killing speed.  They charge everything after 15, can tank dungeons and tear through quests.  The BE warrior I rolled after the Cataclysm patch went to 80 in 4.5 days played with only a BOA weapon, it's ridiculously fast now compared to the 14 days played during Classic just to get to 60.

Crazy?  No life?  Meh, I just really enjoy playing the game and leveling characters in my spare time.  Too bad others don't.

Margin Call, Week of March 17

This week I actually finished learning all the new BOE 522 Epic patterns for LW/Tailor.  Tailoring still has about 4 patterns left to discover, while LW is over 40 now.  The PvP gear mill is very nice, but Contenders still turns much better, and at better ROI.  I did my checking and have come to a conclusion on Sha Crystals, so next week I'll have those in inventory en mass again.  Nothing makes me more nervous than dealing in that market when prices still aren't settled, but I do believe my answer gives me a good reason to invest for quite some time.

It wasn't a super high week by any stretch, and definitely below expectations.  The problem is missing a few markets (high end enchants, alchemy) so sales are going to reflect this.  I did a bit of buying as you can see, too.  My other account bought another 79,000g in materials not reflected here.  Further, I give way more shits about getting my 3 favorite characters geared than paying too much attention daily to the AH.  By my numbers weekly, you can see I pick up about a million gold every 3 weeks, so it's not like I'm hurting here.  You see, I had a birthday last week, so there were drinks to be had and friends and family to go out to dinner with.  I think I got my evening repost in around 11pm.  =)  Always keep your priorities straight, especially when they want to go for New York strips.

AH Nerd Math 102

You want to know what kind of pressure the Exotic Leather market is going to be under?  Or has been, depending on your server?  By my current results and calculations (give or take a recipe or two), to keep yourself COMPLETELY stocked with all the new PvP LW items when all are known:

Total Magnificent Hides required:  94
That's 4700 Exotic Leathers (not counting daily CD), or 235 stacks, or 19.58 full mails to your LW to make them.

Thanks for stopping in!


  1. Thanks Zerohour, I am leveling a bunch of chars and will definately put your wisdom to good use. I hadn`t thought the archeology spear was that useful for one. About ganking I find that Hyjal is every bit as full of it as Hellfire peninsula, making Vashìr(sp) preferable even if boring according to some.

    1. Hyjal is hit or miss. I have encountered raids of 90s camping the portal, and Vash'jir is a bit quieter over here. Yes, it seems boring, but it isn't all that bad since you're only there for a very short while. If you can get into the phased zones you'll be fine in Hyjal, honest!

  2. Nice read! I love my archeology BoA items as well. You might actually have me interested in leveling a warrior now. You've definitely made some good points which I'll be applying to some of the toons that I need to level.

    1. My warrior was my favorite to level. The bonus crit off that spear was producing 300k executes, 100k hits with Bladestorm, and I took down a ganking 90 druid at 87 (in late October), twice. AOE whenever possible, you aren't going to die with VR healing you to full every pull. Don't forget to grab the 87 engineering trinket.

  3. Love the leveling advice 100% accurate on the randoms. Just wanted to point out there are a few more BoA's that are i450 that you can get without Archaeology that I like to use to max my character's leveling, here's a list. I got these as soon as I could, and pass them around when I level alts.

    1. The list isn't popping up anything, but if a person adds 450-450, level 85-85, and Binds when equipped, they'll get the full list of 85 BOEs.

      If a person wants, they can also do 409-450, 80-85, Binds on Equip, they get the full list of all MoP BOEs. Mod for proficiency to narrow it down for armors. I leveled my priest like this, ilvl 435 at 85, no upgrades until Dread Wastes. Still took 2.5 hours to do DW (monk was 2 hours).

  4. Also, welcome TUJ readers, not sure if Erorus knows what he's done.

  5. This post alone is a major motivator for me deciding to revive my Altitis. With 5.3's PvP changes I think I have a lot more fun to look forward to once they're maxxed out level wise.



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